Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Finds In The Yarden

Desert Spiny Lizard - Sceloporus magister
Desert Spiny Lizard - Sceloporus magister

Sunday Finds In The Yarden

Desert Spiny Lizard

This was a very interesting find... to find one alive, that is.  These guys have protective scales that are spiny and work great for protection, however these same spines work against them in our bird netting.  Luckily, when I went to collect some green onions, I spotted this one flailing around in the netting just about ready to hang itself.

This one is male, indicated by the bright blue coloring at the throat and the two patches of bright blue scales that seem to say "my lungs are here".  When live, these lizards are very colorful and interesting with the contrasting black, yellow and blue coloration.

Desert Spiny Lizard - Sceloporus magisterThe only reason I found this lizard is because it was bound up in the bird netting.  Otherwise, they are quite good at dodging and hiding and are amazingly fast.  I was unable to get a ground picture once this one was released, he ran off so quickly.

According to the Reptiles Of Arizona website, I should have seen a pair of these lizards together as they normally travel in male/female pairs.  We welcome these lizards to our yarden, because they eat a variety of yarden pests including ants, beetles, caterpillars, spiders, centipedes, small lizards, and some plant material (I wonder if these are the ones eating our lettuce).

These lizards are mostly active during the daytime, and hibernate during the fall and winter months.  After capturing a sufficient number of photos, he was released and I washed my hands.  When handling reptiles or amphibians, always wash hands before doing other things.  We don't want salmonella.

Armenian Cucumbers And Green Onions

Cucumis melo - Armenian cucumber - Green onion flowers - Scallion - Allium Flower
Cucumis melo - Armenian cucumber
Green onion flowers - Scallion - Allium Flower
We were surprised this year with a medium green skinned Armenian cucumber that has a very "curly" shape.  We normally buy seed and grow the light skinned variety, but may have gotten this variety by accident or purchasing seeds that had cross-pollination.

We sliced it up and the scent was noticeably sweeter than the light skinned version of the Armenian cucumber.  We did a quick taste test and we very pleasantly surprised by the flavor and texture.  If you are looking for a melon that tastes very much like the cucumber bought in the store, this is the one.  It had a very slight lemony taste which was very enjoyable.

Cucumis melo - Armenian cucumber Green onion flowers - Scallion - Allium Flower
Cucumis melo - Armenian cucumber
Green onion flowers
Scallion - Allium Flower
While slicing this up for a salad to have later today, I also trimmed off the little green onion bulblets for a little visual variety.  While we were making frittata muffins, I rolled some goat cheese into the onion bulblets and it tasted super!

Green onion flowers Scallion - Allium Flower
Green onion flowers
Scallion - Allium Flower
The green onions were diced up, the bulbs separated from the flower stems and set aside for salad.

Two Types Of Tomatoes

The weather has been so hot, it's delayed the ripening of our tomatoes.
Tomato Lycopersicon lycopersicum 'Principe Borghese' - Tomato Lycopersicon lycopersicum 'Yellow Pear'
Tomato Lycopersicon lycopersicum 'Principe Borghese'
Tomato Lycopersicon lycopersicum 'Yellow Pear' 
 Today, however, we were able to pull in a small haul of our two smaller varieties; Yellow Pear and Principe Borghese.

Both of these tomato varieties are small.  Yellow Pear being smaller than the Principe Borghese.  Yellow pear is excellent for eating fresh, in salads or whatever tomatoes are normally used for.  Principe Borghese are more for sun drying, which is when they become sweeter.  When the Principe Borghese are eaten fresh off the vine, there isn't much flavor... much like a roma tomato.  We're still waiting for the larger Black Krim and Brandywine Reds to turn color.

Lagenaria siceraria, Bushel Basket Gourd Female Flower
Lagenaria siceraria, Bushel Basket Gourd Female Flower
We are looking forward to more fresh hauls like the bushel basket gourds for making bowls and decorations.

The flowers remind me of old lace and are quite attractive to look at in the mornings.  They open up in the evenings and attract moths with their luminescent white petals, then fade and die off in the heat of the following day.

We haven't had much pollination luck to this point.  Hopefully these gourds will pick up production in
Lagenaria siceraria, Bushel Basket Gourd Female Flower
Lagenaria siceraria,
Bushel Basket Gourd Flower
the next few months.

At the end of the day, we really enjoy our garden and our occasional garden hauls and all the life we support with our endeavors.  It is such a pleasure to see all the goings-on that we can't see or understand from the produce aisle at the local grocer.